Ford XE Fairmont Ghia ESP
Driven by Neville French, Jim Fernance and Simon Fraser
Neville French entered his wife's Ford XE Fairmont Ghia ESP with friend Jim Fernance and son-in-law (at that time), Simon Fraser.
They drove the automatic, 4.9 litre V8 Fairmont down from Newcastle, NSW for the race.
For the race they fitted an extra 42 litre fuel tank from a Ford Escort panel van in the spare wheel well and connected that to the 80 litre main tank with an electric pump and switch mounted near the driver.
Neville fitted some wire mesh over the radiator the day before the race which required that the lights be realigned so he took it to a local Melbourne workshop. They didn’t do a good job as the first time they drove at night the lights only lit up the tree tops. They had to stop and align the lights at the road side.
They were the seventh team to start.
Neville recalls that while in Victoria they caught up with about five teams driving at around the speed limit. They overtook them all on a long straight section only to find a police car leading the group. They pulled in behind the police car and fortunately did not get into any trouble.
Also in Victoria, they had an ignition coil fail in the night in the middle of nowhere but rolled to a stop in front of a telephone box. They were able to get hold of a nearby garage and then a local RACV (Royal Automobile Club of Victoria) mechanic, who had only one coil which happened to be the right one. They were able to get the car fixed but lost a bit of time.
They were able to cruise at around 200 km/h (the speedometer stopped at 200 km/h).
They were stopped by police in Victoria and received a warning for doing 120 km/h. After that they decided to take it easy and travelled the next 1,300 km at 120 km/h.
Across the Nullarbor they caught up with a Charger that was weaving across the road at around 180 km/h. They tried to wake the dozing driver with their horn and lights, and eventually overtook them which did wake the driver. The Charger then passed them and took off and was then caught by police not far down the road, the radar detector having saved Neville and his team.
Also on the Nullarbor, they were stopped again by police for 120 km/h having been tracked by air, and again received only a warning.
At the Albany checkpoint they needed fuel but there were no service stations open. Together with another team in the same predicament, they woke a sleeping service station owner who lived in an attached residence by throwing stones on their roof. They were there were then able to get fuel.
They were stopped a few times by police throughout the race, but received no fines.
After some difficulty in finding the location of the race finish, they arrived in 13th place with a time of 35 hours and 35 minutes.
Neville says that they had a ball on the race, and also added that the drive home was much quicker without the police attention.
The Ford was later sold and its current whereabouts is unknown.